6.7/10
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5 user 2 critic

The Public Menace (1935)

Non-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, and only one who can save her is Murphy.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Cassie Nicholls
...
Edward Joseph 'Red' Foster
...
Mario Tonelli
George McKay ...
Dildy
...
Frentrup
Victor Kilian ...
Joe
...
First Detective
...
Cox
...
Stiglitz
...
Mimi LaVerne
...
Louie
...
Tommy
...
Captain of Ocean Liner
...
Mike the Cop
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Holman ...
Self - Made Man (scenes deleted)

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Storyline

Non-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, and only one who can save her is Murphy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

30 September 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lady of New York  »

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
This film fizzles from a poor script and support
11 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jean Arthur was a marvelous movie comedienne. She was one of the very best actresses at comedy. But, as with any master of the craft, her star's brightness in any film depended a great deal on what she had to work with. That included the script and related material, and the rest of the cast and the film's direction. Most importantly, she needed the right co-star who would help her star shine brightly.

Unfortunately, too much is missing from "Public Menace" to make it a notable or even very enjoyable film. And, it's not the craziness of the plot. Far out plots often can be very good vehicles for great comedy. In this case, the goofy plot might have been OK if it had a great script. But, the script here is terribly weak. How many times do we have to see Red Foster (played by George Murphy), knock on doors trying to sell newspaper subscriptions? No belly laughs there. Not even a chuckle the first time. It drags at times to near boredom.

Combine the poor script with a bad match of a co-star, and a film is sure to flop – or founder, at best. I don't know if Murphy was a wrong match or if it was just a very lackluster performance of a poorly written role. But Jean Arthur as Cassie Nicholls can't raise this film to more than a fizzle. Had her part been better written, it would have helped tremendously.

The screenplay is devoid of witty lines and clever humor. There are no funny scenes. What is there for one to laugh at in this supposed comedy? I noticed only one witty comment in all of this film's dialog. The news editor is yelling out orders to his reporter pool, and one guy says something. The editor gets a dig in at the prominent gossip columnist Walter Winchell when he says "I don't want a Winchell."

I did see one thing that caught my interest that I don't recall ever having seen in a movie before. Murphy's character in on board a cabin cruiser with a flag flying from it that reads "PRESS." The boat is sailing out to meet the inbound Lancaster passenger ship. The several reporters step from the deck of their press boat into a supply door of the ship.

This is not one of Arthur's good films, and it's far from some of her great comedy smashes. Nor is it a good film for George Murphy. Sometimes, the reason so few people may have seen a film before is because it's not that good. Sometimes the reason a film may only rarely be shown on late night TV is because it's not very good. I can understand why this movie is not well known.


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